Sitting here, getting ready to head back into what I lovingly call the Circus of Human Depravity—the Fremont Street Experience in downtown Las Vegas— shooting video and covering the gig from a local sound company angle. And having a hard time believing another year has come to an end.
It was a rough year for many of us. Lots of death and disability which is, I guess, just a part of us all getting older. We will pay tribute to those fallen brothers and sisters on our own International Day of Remembrance on Jan. 20th when Mical Catarina releases the labor of love tribute video he has been putting together every year for at least the last five.
The production biz (and for me, also the publishing biz) continued the struggle of adjusting what are probably foundational (not just cyclical) changes in the U.S. economy, increasing globalization and changes in the tastes and expectations of audiences. Tours by major artists that were expected to go clean in 90% of their markets papered like crazy or played to a lot of empty seats. Upstart festivals struggled or flat-out failed.
The touring biz continues to change with fewer large scale tours carrying full production and artists that just a few years ago were out with five trucks and three buses slimming down to a single bus towing a trailer. The monitor engineer may be doubling as the tour manager and the house engineer as PM.
Social media became the norm and the entire paradigm of “experts” speaking from on high via magazines and newspapers and even TV has given way to a loud and chaotic multi-threaded conversation between friends and peers via Facebook. Breaking news went from being the domain of major media to being disseminated the second it happens via a thousand Tweets. Everyone became a potential video producer and some of the most informative and entertaining video content out there was not made by a Hollywood studio or TV network and distributed via the local cineplex or DirectTV. It was posted to YouTube and some viral videos created overnight megastars.
In my little world, we saw an accelerating contraction in print publishing with venerable titles including Newsweek abandoning paper and ink. And with the U.S. Postal Service hovering on the brink of bankruptcy, continued downward pressure on advertising rates and print production and mailing costs that are certainly not going down (most of us expect to see them continue to rise) Newsweek is far from the first. Many of us in the info biz are on an unofficial death watch and making odds on which title will go down next.
Wow. When I put it that way it sounds pretty crappy. But there are at least two sides to every story.
The changes in the production and touring worlds open up new opportunities for some kinds of companies even as it forces others to reconsider their basic business model. For every touring company looking at fewer tours and more boxes in the warehouse, there are at least a few local rental and production companies providing racks and stacks and crew for those tours with a bus and trailer. I started by saying I was heading to Fremont St any minute? My good friends at HAS Productions have three good sized line-arrays and five consoles plus lighting and backline and crew flown in from Maryland, Detroit and Houston to add to their full-time crew and freelancers and a bunch of hands from one of the local labor companies. Plus stages at two other resort venues across town.
Yep, established acts struggled and there were probably as many tours with disappointing numbers as there were ones that made their nut. But EDM (electronic dance music) appears to rule the tastes of audiences under the age of 30 and all-DJ festivals like Electric Daisy pulled in hundreds of thousands of kids to multi-day events across the US.
The changes in my publishing world? I’m just damn glad I made the jump to digital when I did. As hard as it has been to start a new business in the middle of a horrible and constantly morphing economy, there is real opportunity for growth. I spent a few hours just last night with a good friend and publishing vet who just made the same leap and we talked a lot about how much things have changed and how we expect a very bloody and ugly year as print publishers start to turn on each other like sharks in a feeding frenzy.
As a journalist, I initially hated the “everyone can participate as an equal” world of social media. But I have to admit it has grown on me. Kind of like social media is a colony of E. coli and I’m a slab of room temperature pork roast. It become the primary distribution engine for SoundProLive and Live2Play and the primary time wasting mechanism for many of us. And I gotta admit it can be fun. I was reminded how cool YouTube can be when I missed the Led Zepplin Kennedy Center Honors thing the other day on TV, it was no big deal. I found it in a matter of minutes online and watched it at my leisure. (And, with that paragraph, I just got to use one of the Really Bad Analogies Written by High School Students that someone shared online and I vowed to use all of in the coming year. One down. Eleven to go.)
So, I added the word “Again” to the headline because I am pretty sure I have used it before. In fact, I may have used it more than once. God knows that the past decade has been one of huge changes for me on every level you can name. Personal. Professional. Spiritual. FInancial. Musical (yep, still trying to book a band on top of everything else). I love the song the headline refers to and while REO is not considered a big purveyor of deep lyrics, the chorus is pretty damn good and straightforward advice. Especially after a rough year like this one.
If you’re tired of the same old story
Turn some pages
I for one, brothers and sister, am ready to roll with the changes… Again…